Judge Fines Attorney General and State Ethics Director

September 3, 2014 15:19 pm

by Chet Martin · 14 comments

In a “plague on both your houses” ruling, Fulton County Superior Judge Ural Glanville fined the office of Attorney General Sam Olens and ethics chair Holly LaBerge $10,000 each for failing to provide evidence to former ethics director Stacey Kalberman for her recent lawsuit against the state.

The AJC story reports that LaBerge, who made political waves when she revealed that Governor Deal’s aides contacted her for her support days before the commission issued its 2010 ruling against the Deal campaign, was obligated to turn the same information over to Kalberman’s attorneys. The Attorney General’s office argued that they did nothing improper and that they were not informed that LaBerge kept the text messages in question.

LaBerge retorted that the text messages were mentioned in a 2012 memo the Attorney General’s office received in 2013. She has claimed in past months that she was threatened by the Governor’s Chief of Staff Chris Riley before a 2012 ruling that largely exonerated the governor. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, your Honor.

Can anyone escape Georgia’s omnipresent ethics nightmare?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

eburke September 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I tend to vote Republican. I voted for Nathan Deal. I am reconsidering this year. Maybe divided government in Atlanta would not be so bad a thing.

Charlie September 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Corvid September 3, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Judge Glanville’s Order:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_KEK8-LWmzhYXRwYWMtUVNwa2s/edit

“…the Court is extremely troubled by the behavior of Defendant LaBerge, who has been dishonest and non-transparent throughout these proceedings.”

Will the Commission allow her to stay? They should fire the entire staff and start over.

Wow, just wow….

Lowered Expectations September 3, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Pretty sure WSB and WXIA should just fund the ethics dept – at least they’d have a non stop source of news.

xdog September 3, 2014 at 6:38 pm

The judge sanctioned LaBerge personally and the AG’s lawyer called her ‘dishonest and nontransparent’. That’s really taking one for the team.

Bad as it is the ruling will give Deal cover and of course he never had to testify. Unless he loses in Nov he’ll look back at this whole incident as just another cost of doing business.

analogkid September 3, 2014 at 6:52 pm

I’m generally a fan of Sam Olens, but he definitely needed to be censured/ fined/ whatever for this incident.

I have to say that I’m troubled by the LaBerge fine though. She presented the memo to her attorney, who presumably read it, including the part about the text messages, and determined that none of it needed to be produced. Holding the client responsible for her attorney’s error seems a bit much to me, even if Ms. LaBerge is an attorney herself (which I believe she is).

I haven’t read the order though, so there’s a good chance I’m missing something.

Posner September 3, 2014 at 10:42 pm

“I haven’t read the order though, so there’s a good chance I’m missing something.”

In other words–I have no idea what I’m talking about but feel entitled to offer an opinion anyway.

You really should read the Order. Because you’re just wrong.

analogkid September 3, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I have now read the order. Tell me where I’m wrong. Who knows, I may agree with you.

Gonzo ATL Guy September 4, 2014 at 12:41 am

Was LaBerge asked directly on the witness stand whether she had been pressured by anyone from the Governor’s office to make the ethics investigation go away? That would seem to have been a logical, obvious question for Ms. Worth to have asked LaBerge on the witness stand both in the trial and in the hearing to determine if Deal needed to testify. If so, and assuming LaBerge answered she was not pressured, she personally lied, given the memo stated she was pressured. That has nothing to do with her attorney, and would explain Glanville’s insistence that LeBerge was dishonest.

Gonzo ATL Guy September 4, 2014 at 12:33 am

Ms. LaBerge is not an attorney. I’m not sure if she graduated college. Before getting her present job, she had worked in another state agency for a couple years. Before that, she folded clothing at the GAP or the Linen Loft or some other retail store for years. One of the issues is her lack of training or experience to be in the job she is in. IMO, when Deal’s cronies tapped her for the job, they weren’t looking for a smart, educated professional, they were looking for someone they could get to play ball. It appears the dishonesty highlighted by today’s ruling was her sole qualification for the job, as far as those who recommended her hiring were concerned.

Chris Huttman September 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

Can anyone escape Georgia’s omnipresent ethics nightmare?

Ethical people, maybe?

David C September 4, 2014 at 11:22 am

Perhaps voters, on November 4th?

Mrs. Adam Kornstein September 5, 2014 at 9:41 am

Who pays these fines? The individuals or the offices/agencies? It not made clear in the couple articles I read.

Lea Thrace September 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

LaBerge pays her 10k out of her pocket. AG office (taxpayers) pays the other 10k.

About 90% sure that’s the case anyway.